The eagerly awaited Manchester Theatre Awards (MTA) shortlist has been announced today and, I’m proud to say, recognises some of the great performances we’ve had in 2016 – with 22 nominations across 22 categories.
The shortlist for the Robert Robson Award for Best Dance reaffirms our reputation as the home of dance in the north – with three of the four nominees having taken place on our stage. They also highlight the wide range of dance that we’re fortunate enough to play host to: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Nederlands Dans Theater 2 and the sell-out run that was Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes.
A show represented across a number of categories is Julian Fellowes’ new musical of The Wind in the Willows, which The Lowry welcomed in October ahead of its West-End run later this year. The production grabbed the attention of the MTA panel in three categories: Best Actor in a Visiting Production (Rufus Hound), Best Newcomer (Holly Willock) as well as Best Musical. We are particularly proud of Holly Willock, a young lady from Cheadle in Stockport, who has received this nomination on her professional debut – no mean feat for any young actor.
Another newcomer, Ben Hunter, gave a memorable performance with his comic solo ‘Hello Yorkshire I’m a Virgin’ in Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s The Girls. He was a firm favourite with our audiences – so it’s no surprise the MTA has acknowledged this with his Best Newcomer nomination.
Another production up for multiple awards is A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing. Although presented almost twelve months ago, the quality of the production has remained at the forefront of the panelists’ minds with nominations for Best Visiting Production and Best Actress in a Visiting Production.
Our partnership with Opera North allows us to present high quality opera throughout the year. To see this recognised in the best opera category is brilliant – with two of the four nominations being productions presented by Opera North: Andrea Cheneir and Billy Budd.
It’s also wonderful to see our studio work recognised with nominations in all three studio specific categories: Dirty Pakistani Laundry in Best Studio Production; Alexander Gatehouse for Ventoux in Best Actor in a Studio Production; and Sarah Emmott (another local actor, from Stretford) and Molly Vevers for Best Actress in a Studio Production in for Declaration and Ross & Rachel respectively.
Finally, it’s a real honour to receive not one but two nominations in the Best Special Entertainment Category. The first, for The National Ballet of China’s The Peony Pavilion, would not have been possible without our involvement in The Movement – a dance producing partnership between The Lowry, Birmingham Hippodrome and Sadler’s Wells. The second, for An Anatomie in Four Quarters by Clod Ensemble, was the opening act of our new biennial Week 53 festival and the first performance as part of three year relationship between the two companies.
The anticipation and speculation around who will receive the accolade of topping their category begins now. Roll on the awards ceremony on Friday 17 March!
Julia Fawcett OBE – Chief Executive, The Lowry